Category Archives: Caribbean Plus Lit News

Literary news of interest from the Caribbean and wider world

From the Mailbox – Hurston Wright Legends

zoraYou know I love Zora Neale Hurston (pictured) and respect Richard Wright as an important part of our African diasporic canon, and you’ve seen me post here before about the programme named for these African American literary heavyweights (e.g their Hurston Wright Writers Week). This latest post is the announcement of the winners of this year’s Hurston Wright book awards – a programme that recognizes and lifts up writers from the aforementioned diaspora, in fact, Kwame Dawes a child of both Africa and the Caribbean, resident in America, was a nominee in the poetry category this year, and Antigua and Barbuda’s own Marie Elena John (Unburnable) is a past nominee. I’m late but still pleased to announce this year’s winners some of whom are already on my TBR and will no doubt find their way on to yours. Also, here’s a link re submission guidelines for the next round of nominees. Finally, walk good and rest in power to Hurston Wright Legacy Award winner Ntozake Shange, whom you will know as the author of the seminal and influential choreopoem For Coloured Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf. – JCH blogger and Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator

The winners and finalists of the Legacy Awards are as follows:

Debut Novel
Winner: The Talented Ribkins, Ladee Hubbard (Melville House Publishing)
In the words of the judges: “Characters map family secrets and lore as they reckon with magical powers that bring both vulnerability and strength. For better or for worse, they learn who they are in solitude and as a collective.”

Nominees:
What We Lose, Zinzi Clemmons (Viking)
An Unkindness of Ghosts, Rivers Solomon (Akashic Books)

Fiction
Winner: Black Moses, Alain Mabanckou (The New Press)
In the words of the judges: “Set in the Republic of Congo, this funny, efficiently-rendered picaresque tale superbly traces the hero’s psychic collapse. The perils of tyrannical government are deftly interrogated throughout this seemingly simple and humorous narrative about an orphan boy.”

Finalists:
The Woman Next Door, Yewande Omotoso (Picador)
In the words of the judges: “Two squabbling octogenarian women on different sides of South Africa’s racial divide live out their rancorous days meditating on the pain of the past and the present. In telling the story of the feud between them, The Woman Next Door brings characters who are often overlooked to the center stage.”

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward (Scribner)
In the words of the judges: “This Faulknerian tale (heavily influenced by As I Lay Dying) about broken lives and about how the past keeps haunting the present is written with lyricism and power.”

Nominees:
What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky, Lesley Nneka Arimah (Riverhead Books)
The Tragedy of Brady Sims, Ernest J. Gaines (Vintage Contemporaries)
Dance of the Jakaranda, Peter Kimani (Akashic Books)

Nonfiction
Winner: The Dawn of Detroit: A Chronicle of Slavery and Freedom in the City of the Straits, Tiya Miles (The New Press)
In the words of the judges: “Miles mines scattered and long-forgotten accounts to reconstruct a stunning, surprising and often-horrifying account of Native Americans and African Americans in 18th century Detroit.”

Finalists:
Cutting School: Privatization, Segregation, and the End of Public Education, Noliwe Rooks (The New Press)
In the words of the judges: “Pulling back the veil of neoliberal ‘solutions’ to end the racial divide in our education system, Cutting School demonstrates that the demolition of public education reinforces rather than alleviates the so called ‘achievement gap’ between black school children and their white peers.”

The Cooking Gene: A Journey through African American Culinary History in the Old South, Michael W. Twitty (Amistad)
In the words of the judges: “Following the food trail through his multiracial family history, DNA research, race, and traditional recipes, he creates a comprehensive re-evaluation of the meaning of food to African Americans and their ancestors.”

Nominees:
Cuz: The Life and Times of Michael A., Danielle Allen (Liveright)
Loving: Interracial Intimacy in America and the Threat to White Supremacy, Sheryll Cashin (Beacon Press)
Guidebook to Relative Strangers: Journeys into Race, Motherhood, and History, Camille T. Dungy (W.W. Norton & Company)

Poetry
Winner: Semiautomatic, Evie Shockley (Wesleyan University Press)
In the words of the judges: “Despite the ugliness of the violence around us, she has written a collection of poems that both chronicles it and decries it, all while offering us the beauty of her lines.”

Finalists:
Ordinary Beast, Nicole Sealey (Ecco)
In the words of the judges: “Sealey addresses our frailty, our fears, our folly, with grace, humor, the perfect timbre of understanding, steady in its conviction that love requires praxis.”

Incendiary Art, Patricia Smith (TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press)
In the words of the judges: “At once dexterous and transcendent, Incendiary Art digs far below surface issues to their roots, offering readers a rare glimpse into the nuances of characters’ lives with unmatched frankness and grace.”

Nominees:
City of Bones, Kwame Dawes (TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press)
Trophic Cascade, Camille T. Dungy (Wesleyan University Press)
In the Language of My Captor, Shane McCrae (Wesleyan University Press)

The judges
Debut Novel: Angela Flournoy, Donna Hemans, Ravi Howard
Fiction: Amina Gautier, Chinelo Okparanta, JJ Amaworo Wilson
Nonfiction: Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina, E. Patrick Johnson, William P. Jones
Poetry: Lillian-Yvonne Bertram, A. Van Jordan, Willie Perdomo

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Reading Musical Youth

You may have heard that Musical Youth is on the Antigua and Barbuda schools’ reading list (that was another announcement in the Caribbean Reads newsletter announcing the Spanish edition of Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). I hope this is just the beginning for this book (well the continuation as the book has been out since 2004, after placing second for the Burt Award for teen/young adult Caribbean fiction, and it was on a schools list in Trinidad and Tobago). The response of the teens who’ve read it gives me hope. I was stopped by some of them at Fu Arwe Subben, the Independence showcase. I had finished performing and was on my way back to front of house at which I performed so that they could tell me how much they were loving the book – read it X times, favourite character – Zahara, Shaka and Zahara being #relationshipgoals There was also the teen boy who wanted to know about this book they were talking about, interested because they had expressed interest in it – to which I say, yes!

Another of those trippy, unexpected, hopeful moments on the potholed roads of this writing life. Give thanks. And keep reading for a bit of my presentation of Musical Youth. For more videos, go to my youtube channel. Now, here’s Musical Youth.

Read about Musical Youth.
Read an excerpt from Musical Youth.

As with all content (words, images, other) on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight,  Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). All Rights Reserved. You can also subscribe to and/or follow the site to keep up with future updates. You’re also invited to follow me on my author blog http://jhohadli.wordpress.com Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, with credit, are okay, lifting whole content (articles,  images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.

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Caribbean Reads announces two new Spanish Language Titles

How many Caribbean English children’s picture books have been translated in to Spanish? I’m legit asking as I have no idea. It seems a logical next step given the sizeable Spanish population in the region and the opportunity to remove language as a barrier when sharing our stories. But I have no idea how much it has been done.

Well, however much it has or has not been done in the past, Caribbean Reads Publishing is the latest one to do it. The independent publishing house based in both St. Kitts-Nevis and the US has announced two new titles – both translations of previous titles, one of which is my Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure

and the other Sweet Victory (Dulce Victoria) by Heidi Fagerberg. Both new editions will make their debut at the Miami Book Fair, where I’ll be reading later this month.

The new editions, the book fair, and another bit of news involving my book Musical Youth, also a Caribbean Reads title, is in the latest editing of their newsletter. Here’s a link to read the full thing.

ETA: If you are a blogger or reviewer who would like to receive a review copy of the Spanish language edition of Lost!, contact me a jhohadli at gmail dot com

As with all content (words, images, other) on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight,  Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). All Rights Reserved. You can also subscribe to and/or follow the site to keep up with future updates. You’re also invited to follow me on my author blog http://jhohadli.wordpress.com Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, with credit, are okay, lifting whole content (articles,  images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.

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Lost! at the Miami Book Fair

Just wanted to let Antiguans and Barbudans in the Miami area know that I’ve been invited to present my picture book Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure Lost Cover Front 4at this year’s Miami Book Fair. I am delighted to have another opportunity to represent, as I have in the past, not only my own words but writing from my country at an off-island event.  Here is a link to the entire Fair programme and thisEvent is an image from that programme of my event’s listing. Copies of the books will be on sale at the Book Fair and I’ll be available to sign copies as well. You can read more on my event here. . Plus here’s a Fair post card 2018-mbf-save-the-dateJ. Spread the word.

As with all content (words, images, other) on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight,  Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). All Rights Reserved. You can also subscribe to and/or follow the site to keep up with future updates. You’re also invited to follow me on my author blog http://jhohadli.wordpress.com Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, with credit, are okay, lifting whole content (articles,  images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.

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On becoming an author of children’s books (but not a children’s books author)

Below is an excerpt from my guest post at Women Writers, Women Books.

Ironically enough, when my first book

The Boy from Willow Bend (a story about a boy though not written as a children’s book) dropped, I got hung with the children’s author label (even after my second book Dancing Nude in the Moonlight

dropped).  It felt confining to my publishing brand and my creative spirit. Publishing loves its categories and I wrote everything, as my writing and publishing record since continues to illustrate. And yet I was excited to receive recently an invitation to participate in a children’s book panel at a major American book fair. The publishing gods have a sense of humor because here I am embracing a label I worked for years to shake.

Part of the reason I wrote my first children’s story

was so that I could have a story of my own to read when I attended events (‘children’s author’ Joanne C. Hillhouse had no age appropriate material) – it was a branding (or rather lack-of-branding) issue. Reading an early draft of that first children’s story to children (once during a school visit, once at the children’s reading club with which I volunteered) and editing it based on their reaction actually helped me get it to a pretty publishable place (children at that impulse st/age don’t know to be polite, they just react). So that when I saw a publisher call for material for new children’s books I had something to submit.

To read the whole thing, go here.

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The Caribbean Writer: New Issue, New Call for Submissions

The Caribbean Writer is a 32 year old literary peer-reviewed literary journal out of the University of the Virgin Islands. I’ve always felt that the journal is a good resource for people interested in new Caribbean literature – as every year it presents new voices and fresh writing from not so new voices; its selection process is rigorous (which bodes well for the quality of the writing); and it covers a wide swath of the Caribbean. I’ve always remarked on how many years it took me to get in to The Caribbean Writer – submitting being rejected, rinse spit repeat from at least 1998 – but doing so felt like an essential initiation into the canon of Caribbean writing. I’m happy to be here again (having been published in Volume 18/2004, Volume 24/2010, Volume 26/2012, Volume 27/2013, Volume 29/2015; and having won two prizes 2011 and 2015).

TCW-Cover-VOL-32-2.jpg

Remarkably, the call for submissions for volume 32 went out not long after the Virgin Islands had been knocked about by hurricane Irma, while  the islands were  in the early stages of recovery. They announced as their theme Rough Tides, Rough Times: Reflections and Transitions. And as my own Antigua and Barbuda was in the throes of its own post-Irma rough times, I found inspiration and in a rush of writing produced something – The Night the World Ended – that found favour with the editors.

The other Antiguan and Barbudan in the issue is Paget Henry who heads the line-up with a tribute to the late Guyanese literary giant Wilson Harris.

Read the full rundown here and listen out for the launch of the issue.

While we’re here, Volume 33 is now open for submissions and will be up to January 31st 2019. The theme is Musings and Metaphors: Evolution and Devolution. You can find more information here. It will also be listed on the Opportunities Too page which you should also check out…and submit!

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Antiguan and Barbudan writer Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure; also a freelance writer, editor, writing coach and workshop facilitator). All Rights Reserved. If you like the content here follow or recommend the blog, also, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. Thank you.

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Reading Room and Gallery 31

The Reading Room and Gallery is a space where I share things I come across that I think you might like too  – some are things of beauty, some just bowl me over with their brilliance, some are things I think we could all learn from, some are artistes I want to support by spreading the word, and some just because. Share by excerpting and linking, so to read the full story or see all the images, or other content, you will need to go to the source. No copyright infringement is intended. Let’s continue to support the arts and the artistes by rippling the water together. For earlier installments of the Reading Room and Gallery, use the search feature to the right. This is the 31st  one which means there are 30 earlier ones (can’t link them all). Remember to keep checking back, this list will grow as I make new finds until it outgrows this page and I move on to the next one.JCH

REPORTING

“Simon was a four-time Oscar nominee and a staggering 17-time Tony nominee; he won three times and received a special Tony in 1975, along with virtually every other honor a playwright can win, including the Pulitzer Prize for 1991’s Lost in Yonkers. Because he was so prolific, churning out more than 60 plays, screenplays, teleplays, and even contributions to musicals over the course of half a century, it’s hard to home in on his most important works, or even his most important decade. But here are four Simon works we think every theater lover should know.” – Vox on late American playwright Neil Simon

CREATING

‘The short story is well placed for putting twists on simple things. Unlike the novel – in which the author is primarily concerned with world-building – the short story is typically centred on a moment or event and charged with a more playful energy. An author of three novels – The Beast of Kukuyo (2018), The Repenters (2016) and Littletown Secrets (2013) – Hosein felt ‘Passage’ was better suited for the short form, for its warmth, tension and confusion. “‘Passage’ works because of its set-up and quick deflection of expectations,” says Hosein. “There also had to be continuously rising tension that’s a lot more difficult to maintain in a novel, especially a novel that entails such few players.”’- Kevin Jared Hosein on The Culture Trip

THE BUSINESS

“1.Give anything you’ve just finished some time and space before you submit.

2.Try to be as objective as possible when you finally do return to that piece.

3.Be ready and willing to revise.

4.Know thyself. Be brutally honest.

5.In the end, go with your gut. If you think it’s ready, send it.” – Matt Mullins in Atticus Review newsletter

INTERVIEWS

“You know I think the jokes that work for white guys and their white guy comedian friends don’t work, always, for women of color. …” – Amber Tamblyn

***

What advice would you give to new writers starting out? Where to start? Kill adverbs. Use nouns and verbs. Adjectives are less useful than you think. Think about what you’re trying to say and then do that, plainly. Be kind to yourself – writing is hard. Read lots of stuff, everything, but try including some good ones, you know, that have critical acclaim. It does count for something. Grammar. Jesus Christ – fixing that is not an editor’s job, or it shouldn’t be. Go looking for your inspiration – be active. There is no bolt from the blue that will deliver you literary perfection – it takes work. READ. Most of the time the story will not just seek you out – you have to go find it. READ. Oh, and if you’re a poet, I beg you not to read poetry in that sing-song voice that so many put on at worthy events. Sorry, I know I’m supposed to be talking about shorts. READ. ” – Leone Ross

***

“For writers, dreams are where it’s at.” – Angela Barry

***

Who made reading important to you? When I was little, my older sisters read to me from time to time. I also have one memory of my father reading to me. He was not a very fluent reader and I remember him struggling with the words, but he tried very hard and put a lot of heart into it. I was about five or so and was very moved by it all; that reading experience fueled something and has remained with me on many levels.” – interview with Marcia Douglas

***

***

“If you’re prepared to be tough with yourself. That’s hard to instill in people – that you can have a lot of confidence and still be really tough. And also know it’s not factory work, it’s not office work, it’s not going to come out the same every day. And because this is the only place we write from, this self that we are, some days it’s a bit fucked up.” – Jeanette Winterson with Marlon James

***

‘And when someone asked me that [authority question], I said, “You mean… talent and imagination?”’ – Marlon James with Jeanette Winterson

FICTION

“In the autumn of Maria’s eighteenth year, the year that her beloved father—amateur coin collector, retired autoworker, lapsed Catholic—died silently of liver cancer three weeks after his diagnosis, and the autumn her favorite dog killed her favorite cat on the brown, crisped grass of their front lawn, and the cold came so early that the apples on the trees froze and fell like stones dropped from heaven, and the fifth local Dominican teenager in as many months disappeared while walking home from her minimum-wage, dead-end job, leaving behind a kid sister and an unfinished journal and a bedroom in her mother’s house she’d never made enough to leave…” – Mary When You Follow Her By Carmen Maria Machado, Illustrations by Sergio García Sánchez

***

“‘Well me wasn’t there, but people say it, so I believe it,’ the man said, chuckling through a smile of missing teeth.” – An Elephant in Kingston by Marcus Bird

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, Musical Youth and With Grace). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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